A deal that promised to send prisoners from the European Union (EU) back home to serve their sentences and save the taxpayer over a £100 million has been slammed as just a handful a year are being deported.
The deal was supposed to relieve pressure on Britain’s overcrowded jails, but just 217 inmates have been ejected from Britain since 2011, meaning around 36 are deported each year.
In 2015, the Ministry of Justice identified 4,400 prisoners to potentially be removed over 10 years and estimated savings of approximately £110 million once the compulsory deal was in operation.
Sam Gyimah, the prisons minister, revealed in a written Commons answer that there are now around 4,100 EU citizens in jails in England and Wales. At the end of September, they included 891 Poles, 638 Romanians, 424 Lithuanians, 245 Portuguese, and 189 Dutch.
“Far too few Euro criminals are being sent home under the EU prisoner transfer directive despite the fact that it is meant to be compulsory,” blasted Philip Hollobone, Conservative MP for Kettering, who asked the question.
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One of the reasons for the low number of prisoners being returned to their home countries is the fact that it took until 2015 for all but two states – Ireland and Bulgaria – to put the plan in place, The Times reports.
Furthermore, compulsory transfers could be delayed or blocked if convicts go to court claiming that their “human rights” would be breached by prison conditions in their home state.
Richard Burgon, the shadow justice secretary, said: “The government was warned that its estimates for transfers were overly optimistic.
“It urgently needs to clarify how its failure to meet its own targets will affect the number of available prison places, as overcrowding is already driving an unprecedented wave of violence in our prisons.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesman added: “Transfer rates under the EU prisoner transfer agreement are increasing, but this is only one of our removal mechanisms, with 2,214 foreign national offenders removed under [the] early removal scheme in 2016-17.”